Since its conception in the 1950s, the developers of the internet had always intended for it to become a hub of communication, information storage and society itself. The original pioneer of the internet was J.C.R. Licklider who envisioned, “A ‘thinking center’ that will incorporate the functions of present-day libraries together with anticipated advances in information storage and retrieval and the symbiotic functions suggested earlier in this paper. The picture readily enlarges itself into a network of such centers, connected to one another by wide-band communication lines and to individual users by leased-wire services.”
It is a vision startlingly similar to the modern internet’s structure. While the internet’s pioneers readily anticipated the technical challenges and goals of their invention, the social, economic and cultural impacts were far less discernible. The internet created giant companies like Google and Facebook who embraced the new medium, and decimated old economic pillars like the recording industry that failed to change. However, many industries are still in the process of adapting to the internet and face immense hurdles as they attempt to survive in the 21st century.
Nobody knows this better than journalists. Over the past decade, newspapers, once the pillars of journalism, have been losing readership and revenue, and according to the American Society of News Editors employment in the country’s newsrooms has fallen by 15% just during the 2007-2009 period. This decline does not, however, mark the end of news and journalism, the Economist writes, “As large branches of the industry wither, new shoots are rising. The result is a business that is smaller and less profitable, but also more efficient and innovative.” Journalism as a whole still remains relevant and necessary for the masses, but it is also an industry that is now open to change and dramatic shifts in power and influence.